The maximum jail time for carrying a knife in Scotland will increase from four to five years, justice secretary Kenny MacAskill announced today.
He says the move sends out a strong message that “knives cost lives”
Mr MacAskill also announced a crackdown on people released from prison who commit more crime before their original sentence is up.
The announcement comes at a time when police are carrying out a record number of stop and searches. This move will aim to get out the message that carrying a knife is just not worth the risk.
So do the public think that increasing jail time will reduce knife violence?
The justice secretary said that violent crime was at a 30-year low, with 44% fewer weapons on the streets since 2006-07. But how much of this reduction is down to better clampdown measures and higher jail terms? Should there be a call for using education to tackle violence at an early-age, with more emphasis on violence prevention?
Deputy Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, of Strathclyde police’s Violence Reduction Unit, said after the announcement that “prevention is undoubtedly better than cure when it comes to violence – we need to try and stop the drama before it comes to violence, help people understand that carrying weapons and using violence to resolve conflict is wrong long before the police, the courts, the justice system have to get involved.”
Perhaps the message is that a two-pronged approach will work best – combining tougher enforcement and higher jail time measures with more all-rounded educational methods which aim to tackle and prevent violence at its core.